Finance

Florida decide refuses to increase voter submitting deadline and censures election officers

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A voting booth is seen at a polling station in a fire station in the Coral Gables neighborhood during the Democratic presidential election in Miami

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By Jarrett Renshaw

(Reuters) – A federal judge on Friday refused to extend the Florida voter registration deadline, but not before severely reprimanding Republican officials for ongoing problems conducting elections in the battlefield state.

Five civil rights and electoral groups called on the court to extend the state's deadline for registering voters on October 5 after Florida's online registration portal crashed on Monday. Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee extended the deadline to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, but the groups asked for an additional two days.

"In the final hours of the Florida voter registration period, during an election year that coincided with a lengthy and incredibly damaging public health emergency, Florida's voter registration website crashed, effectively preventing thousands of potential voters from safely registering before the midnight deadline could to vote. " District Judge Mark Walker wrote in a judgment issued Friday.

However, Walker declined to allow the extension, saying he did not want to incriminate local election officials, who were already preparing for a record turnout in the race between President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden.

"Florida's interest in preventing chaos in its already precarious – and consistently chaotic – elections outweighs the substantial burden on the franchise," Walker wrote.

“The governor has taken quick and determined action to give voters access to multiple registration options, including online, in person, and by mail. There was no basis for federal judicial involvement and the governor was expecting that outcome, "said Cody McCloud, a spokesman for Governor Ron DeSantis.

Walker, however, heavily criticized what he saw as the state's shortcomings in running an election.

"This court states that every man who stepped on the moon took off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida," wrote Walker. "Florida, however, failed to get an election right – a task easier than rocket science."

Florida was instrumental in the decision on the hotly contested 2000 presidential election, which Republican George W. Bush conducted over Democrat Al Gore. The state Supreme Court allowed a recount at Gore's request. A 5-4 Supreme Court ruling ended the recount and resulted in Bush's election victory.

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